Norfolk, Virginia, is home to 144 miles of shoreline, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, so it makes sense for this waterfront city to be a seafood haven. The city’s chefs and restaurateurs pride themselves on serving only the freshest seafood, from oysters, scallops and shrimp to mussels, clams, and, of course, the Chesapeake Bay’s star crustacean, blue crabs. These are the best places to get your fill of fresh Norfolk seafood on your next trip.
The Lynnhaven oyster, a saltwater delicacy indigenous to coastal Virginia, was once prized by the kings and queens of Europe; rumour has it that many royal families had the specialty plucked from Virginia waters and shipped to them overseas. Try them for yourself at A.W. Shucks Raw Bar & Grill in the historic Ghent district of Norfolk.
Some Norfolk seafood restaurants offer an upscale ambience complete with swanky place settings and starched white tablecloths. Others make you feel comfortable and relaxed; and for nearly 40 years, Surf Rider Restaurant has done just that. Surf Rider is where locals go for old fashioned home-style cooking like their famous crab cakes, fried oysters, steamed shrimp, and spicy Cajun tuna bites. Entrees are served with a huge head of broccoli and homemade hollandaise sauce for dipping.
She-Crab Soup, named for the “She-Crab,” or female crab, is a perennial favourite in Norfolk. Todd Jurich’s Bistro serves up homemade Chesapeake Bay She Crab Soup full of crabmeat, crab roe, cream, and just the right touch of dry sherry and old bay buttered oyster crackers. You can even order an extra shot of sherry, for added kick.
Sophisticated yet wholly unpretentious, 456 Fish Restaurant, located downtown on Norfolk’s “restaurant row”, is famous for its potato chip-encrusted 456 Fish crab cake. The entrée is served with a huge scoop of garlic whipped potatoes, locally sourced vegetables and a special “Inner Beauty” remoulade.
One of the more stylish Norfolk seafood restaurants, a creative menu and exceptional service comes as standard at Field Guide. When you first walk into this downtown joint, you’ll notice huge family-style tables and a massive garage door, propped open on cool, sunny days. Try their mouth-watering Royale Champ sandwich, which comes loaded with smoked whitefish salad, rocket, bacon, easy egg, smoked cheddar and harissa mayo. Wash it down with a Tennessee Slushy and settle in for a long, languorous night.
For a delicious seafood feast, stop by Norfolk Seafood Company & Big Easy Oyster Bar and order the Big Mussels Diablo. You won’t find this local’s favourite on the menu, but if you ask Chef Darren Mickey Vernon, he’ll gladly whip up this popular dish of mussels tossed with tomato sauce, fresh garlic, sliced yellow onions and red chili flakes.
Header image © VisitNorfolk
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Have you been to any of these Norfolk seafood restaurants? Have we missed any of your favourites off our list? Let us know in the comments section below.